The Baltimore Ravens offense could look a heck of a lot different this season than it did in 2012. Missing a huge piece of the puzzle in Anquan Boldin as he headed off to the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens are going to be missing a lot more than most fans may think.
Boldin was the guy who came up big in the playoffs last year, and quite frankly, without him I don’t see the Ravens winning the Super Bowl. Call me crazy if you must, but go back and review the tapes and you will quickly realize that Boldin’s big-time catches were instrumental in propelling Baltimore to a Super Bowl title.
This upcoming year, the two top receivers on the roster are Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones — at least that’s the way the depth chart looks now. To me, that’s not nearly enough to get it done like they did last year. Joe Flacco just got paid a lump sum of money, and to be honest, he will not live up to it.
As much as I love Smith, he was so inconsistent at times last year with a couple of dropped passes here and there — believe me, this coming from a fantasy owner — and some games he looked virtually non-existent.
Jones, on the other hand, will never be more than a return specialist. He may have had a couple of significant catches last year, but for him to do that consistently throughout an entire season would be asking far too much.
For this reason, the Ravens absolutely must rely on their running game first and foremost in 2013. They have arguably one of the most — if not the very top — versatile running backs in the game next to LeSean McCoy, in Ray Rice. The kinds of things Rice brings to the table deserve at least 15-20 carries per game.
Behind Rice, there’s Bernard Pierce, an up-and-coming young talent in the backfield who performed quite well spelling Rice off the bench last year. Pierce, to me, is one of the best backups in the league and very well could be playing for another team in the near future. For now, Baltimore has to use him and Rice to their advantage.
By running the ball a lot more in 2013, they may be able to get their passing game to a level that is somewhat satisfactory. Flacco doesn’t have a ton of established talent to throw the ball to in Smith and Jones, and could wind up depending more on his tight end Dennis Pitta like he did early on last season.
For the Ravens to make it even close to where they wound up last year, the running game has to be the focus. Flacco may be the man come playoff time, but he will hasn’t been quite near as good in the regular season thus far in his career. Run the ball with Rice and Pierce and you will be just fine.